The importance of warranties

Oct. 4, 2017
Handling warranties is a big part of your business. How much mind do you pay to honoring them?

There are many aspects to the mobile tool selling business, but your general operation can be broken down into two main requirements: sales and service. For a successful tool distributor, excelling at both of these go hand-in-hand; you can’t have one without the other.

Sales – involving the actual selling of the product, and the subsequent payments you collect afterward – is typically the most straightforward, and some would argue, easiest part of the job. After all, what technician doesn’t love to buy tools? (Getting them to pay on a weekly basis takes a bit more assertiveness.)

Service has many more facets, which requires a balancing act to make sure you’re meeting the needs of all your customers. It’s all the other “stuff” you do to make your customers’ lives easier, and what makes them want to buy from you, and turn to you first. A successful mobile tool distributor goes above and beyond what’s expected in order to deliver on a need a customer may not have known he or she had.

You’ve heard all the service mainstays: Being honest; showing up at the same time, same place every week; ordering the tool your customer requested the week before; having a great rapport with customers … and honoring warranties.

All of you are aware of the emphasis technicians place on warranties. That is the question I hear frequently in shops and on the tool truck, prior to the purchasing decision: “What’s the warranty on this?”

And it’s a loaded question.

While the manufacturer provides certain criteria for that warranty to be honored, it’s up to you, the distributor, to be the middleman. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s a pain in the … you know what.

No one wants a tool to break – but they can, and they will. And when they do, techs want the peace of mind they will get a (like-)new tool without paying an arm and a leg.

When a technician asks you about a warranty, the question is two-fold: will you take care of this warranty for me? And, will the manufacturer honor the warranty?

While you don’t want to compromise the service you’re providing a customer, warranties can take a lot of work on your part. It’s about the service you’re providing your customer – it’s important to pay attention to those details, but not to get bogged down.

Sometimes honoring that warranty can be a big challenge, especially if the manufacturer is difficult to work with – requiring a lot of back and forth communication, long wait times, hassle with what happened with the tool.

For distributors who get help from a spouse or additional employee, warranties can take up the bulk of their time. So it’s no wonder some dealers choose not to do it; or, they only work with select companies.

But, it’s imperative to your business success to honor warranties. It’s important to carve out the time and the right balance of inventory on the truck for manufacturers you know will be easy to work with if and when necessary.

What’s your warranty workload, and how do you handle it? Are there companies you like working with, and others that can be cumbersome to communicate with? I’d like to hear from you. 

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